My only previous exposure to Emanuelle, the softcore heroine of trash cinema, had been watching the original Emanuelle starring Sylvia Kristel back in the early days of cable. While I was aware of this later series of films (which also includes EMMANUELLE IN BANGKOK, EMMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS, and EMMANUELLE ESCAPES FROM HELL) I never understood how the character went from being portrayed by the very white Kristel to the exotic Laura Gemser... and I'm still not sure that I do.
All I do know is that after just one viewing of Joe D'Amato's legendary EMMANUELLE IN AMERICA (aka BRUTAL NIGHTS) I might never, ever be the same again.
The flick starts with fashion photog (and investigative photojournalist?) Emmanuelle taking snapshots of and dispensing love advice to her busty, totally 70s models. When Janet complains that her intellectual boyfriend won't give it to her and give it to her good, Emmanuelle tells her not to worry as she's "got the equipment to get him over it." As it turns out, Emmanuelle is really the one to help him get over it as evidenced by the authoritative blow job she tries to give Janet's would be lover after he kidnaps her with murder on his mind.
After averting murder at the hands of a gun-toting virgin who looks like Salami from THE WHITE SHADOW, Emmanuelle gets a lead from a buddy at a boxing gym (?!) and lands at the suburban harem of a rich sleazeball named Eric Van Darren (Lars Bloch). Filled with beauties who only go by their astrological signs (how very 70s!), Emmanuelle beds Van Darren, one of his employees and some of the other chicks in a rather complicated looking display of synchronized lezzing off in the harem's swimming pool.
Just when you think Emmanuelle is going to stumble onto a larger, more nefarious plot (a discovery of a big box of automatic weapons labeled HORSE SHOES leads nowhere) we're "treated" to a rather jarring and graphic display of equine masturbation as one of the gals displays her "speciality" – jerking off a giant horse cock. And I literally mean "horse cock." This scene – roughly a third of the way in to the flick – let me know that EMMANUELLE IN AMERICA's reputation as an eye-popping piece of genuine Eurotrash was well deserved.
Sneaking out of the compound in the shitty-looking car of a rich duke, Emmanuelle winds up at the Venetian home of the duke (played by Gemser's then-husband Gabriel Tinti) and his wife where the flick applies the "boring brakes" – then again, I'm not sure what they could have done after the equine handjob – and delivers such pedestrian elements as a threesome (all humans) and straight sex between Emmanuelle and her investigative reporter boyfriend Bill (Riccardo Salvino). Things get a bit kinkier when a party turns into a giant orgy complete with a creepy character named "The Senator" licking icing off a gal who resembles a young Kate Hudson and the first of many oral sex scenes. And no, D'Amato doesn't shoot things from angles to mask or disguise the actual act. If you want hardcore sex with your hardcore sleaze, you've come to the right place.
Picking up a lead about a sex club where rich single women pay for sex with hot studs, Emmanuelle races off after the story and pays her way into the club run by an uptight, teetotaling, closeted lesbian. Who serves bowls of penis-shaped aphrodisiac cookies in her office.
Using her necklace camera, Emmanuelle makes her way around the grounds taking snaps of a couple playing Tarzan and Jane (featuring the priceless line "Now Jane eat Tarzan!"), a graphic interracial threesome complete with penetration and money shots, and a dude dressed as Zorro. Just when you think the flick is nothing more than a kinky piece of globe-trotting trash, D'Amato sends us into a downward spiral that might leave most (all?) viewers turned off.
Spying a woman watching a movie as she has sex with her stud, Emmanuelle gets an eyeful of painfully real looking snuff and torture footage. Sickened but intrigued by the footage and a news story that catches her eye when she returns home, Emmanuelle digs deeper into the snuff film trail and ends up face to face with the perpetrators of the insanely disgusting on-screen atrocities. Naturally, the flick ends with Emanuelle and Bill going "native" on some tropical island where the flick comes to a head-scratching "what the fuck did I just watch" conclusion.
Frankly, EMMANUELLE IN AMERICA is a mess. But a mess that is as titillating and fascinating as it is repulsive. Packed with plot threads and potential storylines that go nowhere EMMANUELLE never seems to deliver on its potential. From the guns at Van Darren's ranch and the rivalry between Emmanuelle and Bill for pages in the newspaper that employs them to the art forgery ring that the Venetian duke appears to be running, the film has a ton of ideas. But they're all overshadowed by such unbelievable scenes as the chick masturbating the horse (I'm still trying to get that image out of my head) and the unflinching snuff footage that made me want to scrub myself clean. From breast slicing and acid gargling to disturbingly real on-screen murder, the footage is as gruesomely realistic as the lingering death scenes in D'Amato's DEATH SMILES ON MURDER are fake.
While I certainly won't be watching the flick again any time soon (how about never?) I'm glad – and I feel wrong even using that word – to have added it to my ongoing Eurosleaze education.
To further your own Eurotrash edumacation, purchase EMMANUELLE IN AMERICA from Amazon.